Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen announced he is quitting Ebay’s board of directors after the online retailer made a last month decision to spin off PayPal, its electronic payment unit. In addition to this role, Andreessen is the co-developer of Mosaic, one of the first widely used web browsers but also co-founder of Netscape Communications and maker of the Netscape Navigator browser.
Andreessen and activist investor Carl Icahn have been in a war of the words for some time and as one of the largest shareholders, Icahn convinced eBay to finalize the spinoff. In a public tweet this morning, Andreessen said that after serving on the board for over six years coupled with the decision to split from PayPal, he felt it was time to leave.
As part of the ongoing battle, last March Icahn said that with Andreessen being on eBay’s board of directors, a conflict of interest developed when the company’s online phone service, Skype, was sold in 2009 to private investors, one that included Andreessen’s own venture capital firm.
In an interview with a major news outlet, Andreessen compared Icahn to an “evil Captain Kirk”, saying the activist investor had little interest in or concern for the companies he became involved with.
One day later, Icahn gave an interview to the same news outlet to stress that Andreessen had “screwed more people than Casanova”, adding that the board of director’s member had a squeaky voice that only a dog could hear.
If everything goes according to plan, the split with PayPal will take effect in 2015. Interesting, this spinoff goes against eBay’s leadership team that until now has resisted the calls for a split made by Icahn. In an effort to convince the board that eBay should not change, the team led a long campaign.
According to other investors and analysts, Andreessen is a true optimist and for the past 20 years, has proven right in his decisions. For instance, when the concept for eBay was first discussed, rather than think it would never work, Andreessen thought if it does work, this would be the first time in history that a global trading platform was developed.